Benzodiazepines (pronounced ben-zoh-die-AZ-a-peens) are depressant drugs. This means that they slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages travelling between the brain and the body. They do not necessarily make a person feel depressed. Other depressants include alcohol, cannabis and heroin.
Benzodiazepines, also known as minor tranquilizers, are most commonly prescribed by doctors to relieve stress and anxiety and to help people sleep. However, there is increasing concern among medical professionals about the risks of using these drugs, particularly when they are used for a long time. Some people use benzodiazepines illegally to get high or to help with the ‘come down’ effects of stimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine.
Short-acting benzodiazepines have stronger withdrawal or ‘come down’ effects and can be more addictive than long-acting ones.
Benzodiazepines are known by their chemical (generic) name or their brand name. In each case the drug is exactly the same – it’s just made by a different company.
If you take a large amount, you could overdose. If you have any of the symptoms below, call an ambulance straight away by dialing 999 or 112:
BENZODIAZEPINES + ALCOHOL OR OPIATES (SUCH AS HEROIN)
Breathing difficulties with an increased risk of overdose and death.
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries risk.
The effects of taking Benzodiazepines with other drugs including over-the-counter or prescribed medications can be unpredictable and dangerous.